At this time of year, with Christmas festivities well underway, the New Year is always a time to reflect upon the experiences and memories over the past twelve months and plan for the future.
Since taking up the role as Chairman of Down district some seven months ago, I have hardly had time to draw breath, acting as first citizen for the district and meeting so many incredible people.
It's been an honour to be Chairman of Down District Council this year. I have represented the Council at many official functions, events to educate and inspire our wonderful young people, and occasions to recognise the special achievements of people in the community. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people whilst undertaking my official duties. There is so much excellent work being done by residents, voluntary groups, the business community, and our partner organisations which I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand.
At the beginning of my year as Chairman, I set out with the idea that I would work to do what I could to make the citizens of Down district feel that they all belong to a special place and that we are all one big family. In fact what I have found is that Down district people are quite astonishing in their diversity and enthusiasm for the district and so many devoting themselves to improving family life and the welfare of others.
I would say to each and every one of you, if you are fortunate enough to be sharing your life with family and loved ones, do please reflect on your good fortune and savour happy times. If however, because of bereavement, illness or difficult circumstances, you find yourself alone at the beginning of this New Year, please remember that there is always a helping hand somewhere.
2009 was not a smooth journey for everyone, the current economic climate left many people unclear of what the future would hold for them. As we try to recover from a period of recession, where 2009 brought tough times for many families, I am sure the community spirit I have seen in Down District will see us through these challenging times and make 2010 a better place for us all. I believe it is a time to be strong, to work together and to remember that there are those less fortunate than us.
During the course of the past few months, I have met some of the families who have suffered the loss of loved ones and others who have been deeply affected by what's happened during the past year in Afghanistan. I would encourage everyone to reach out and support all of the people living in the entire district of Down and to embrace everyone into our local community.
The beginning of a new year is also an appropriate time for us to recognise the work of many volunteers who give their time, unpaid and usually unsung, to the community by working for community organisations and local charities. On behalf of all the citizens of our district, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you as you serve us so selflessly in the work you do.
It really has been a privilege to meet so many people in the role of Chairman and it always pleases me to hear the many positive things they have to say about the district we live in. On behalf of Down District Council I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps us in the work we do; especially the public, young and old alike, our Councillors, our staff, volunteers, partner organisations and many others.
On the threshold of 2010 I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year and look forward to meeting many more people across our district over the coming months who to me are the guardians of our much cherished community spirit.
I wish everyone a SAFE and PEACEFUL NEW YEAR